Theme: Human Rights

Because They Were Taken Alive: Forced Disappearance in Latin America

In Guatemala City, a single garage light has been burning continuously for almost thirty years. The garage’s owner, a woman now in her nineties, cannot bring herself to turn it off. On May 15, 1984, her son, Rubén Amílcar Farfán, left the house early as he usually did, headed for the university. But later that afternoon, friends of his rang the doorbell of the family’s house, anguished, to report the worst …

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Neruda and the Chilean Open Graves: Windows of Hope

Chilean graves have been opening during the last years. Remains of poet Pablo Neruda were removed last May from his tomb facing the Pacific in the small Chilean coastal town of Isla Negra. Before Neruda, in May 2011, remains of former President Salvador Allende were also unburied, to fully determine if he in fact committed suicide while military forces bombarded the presidential palace. …

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Prospects of Peace: Sharing Historical Memory in Colombia

It certainly sounded glamorous at the time—and even might sound so today. In October 1981, I flew from Berkeley, California, where I had been visiting, to attend an academic conference at Yale University on political scenarios under the Chilean dictatorship. I had an airline ticket in my pocket to take me, after the conference, to Lund, Sweden. So far so good, except that the student visa I had received …

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Keeping the Silence, Breaking the Silence: The Role of the Published Word

As editor of the English-language Buenos Aires Herald, I lived through the worst years (1976 to the end of 1979) of the dictatorship in Argentina, and I was constantly astonished by the way the general population accepted military rule. It is true that the media silenced themselves in complicity with, or out of fear of, the special task forces that resembled the Nazi Einsatzgruppen. …

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Making Water Safe in Haiti: Filters and Dispensers for the Haitian People

Madame Aubry swoops through the front door of her two-story cement blockhouse in the Delmas neighborhood of Port-au-Prince to greet her guests. She is a petite bundle of cheer, with a ponytail that swings in synch to the allegro tempo of her gait. Her caramel skin is punctuated only by a beauty mark below her left eye and a few beads of sweat that have aggregated in her cupid’s bow. …

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